New Additions to the ASTEP Staff

In this year of reflection and growth, we are thrilled to welcome two individuals into new roles within the ASTEP team: Alejandro Rodriguez and Kate Garst!


Some of you may know Alejandro, as he is a longtime ASTEPer, but please join us in welcoming him into his new role as ASTEP’s Deputy Executive Director!

Alejandro began his journey with ASTEP in 2006, at 18 years-old, as a volunteer teaching artist with the Art-in-Action (AIA) summer camp in Homestead, Florida, only half-an-hour south of where he was born and raised. After graduating with his BFA from Juilliard in 2009, he went on to coordinate both the AIA program as well as the Refugee Youth Summer Academy in Brooklyn, as well as contribute to nearly all other ASTEP offerings in a myriad of ways. In 2014, he inaugurated his own ASTEP program, the Artist as Citizen Conference (AAC), an immersive educational program that developed young artists by combining traditional arts classes and career skills workshops with speakers & panels on the subjects of citizenship, service & social justice. AAC was hosted at Juilliard  for six consecutive summers and positively impacted the lives of over 250+ young artists. He left New York in 2018 to pursue further experience in arts leadership, serving as the Associate Artistic Director of North Carolina’s premiere  professional theater company, PlayMakers Repertory. He returns to ASTEP in this pivotal time to work alongside its founder, Mary Mitchell Campbell, to help metabolize and activate the various lessons of 2020, and to assist in building a more dynamic, more inclusive, more sustainable foundation for ASTEP’s next 14 years of service.

“My journey at ASTEP has been, quite literally, from the bottom up. I’m excited to bring the solidarity I feel for all aspects of this organization — our superhero partners, our rockstar teaching artists, and of course, our incredible students — to bear on its continued evolution.” -Alejandro Rodriguez


Introducing Kate Garst, ASTEP’s new Director of Strategic Initiatives!

Where did you grow up? 
A proud Cornhusker, I grew up in Omaha, Nebraska.

Where did you work before joining the ASTEP team?
I’m departing The Atlantic Philanthropies which concluded its grantmaking of 8 billion dollars in September in alignment with the founder’s wishes to devote his wealth to the service of humanity. In the theatrical world, I worked with Jujamcyn Theaters, Stacey Mindich Productions, Korins Studio (formerly David Korins Design) and the Public Theater.

Do you have a background in the arts or teaching?
Theater has been an important part of my life since I was a child, and that passion fuels my professional life.

What is the most challenging part of your work?
I’ve never met a challenge I could walk away from.

What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Seeing the impact it has on people.

What about working for ASTEP are you most looking forward to?
Making an impact on the lives of children and their families. New York has been my home for 12 years, and I’m excited to join the ASTEP team who seeks to reach the children in our community through the arts.

What song best encapsulates your working personality?
All Together Now, The Likes of Us.

 

 

Introducing Musicians United for Social Equity (MUSE)

Since 2006, ASTEP has worked to harness the power of the arts to help children break the cycles of poverty they were born into. Still, we understand all too well that barriers to access and opportunity don’t cease when one enters adulthood — in fact, for many of our students and colleagues from historically marginalized communities, the industries they enter harbor their own interlocking and mutually-reinforcing biases. Broadway is not immune to this. That is why we are beyond proud to partner with MUSE, a multi-racial collective of Music Directors, Arrangers, Orchestrators, and Composers working to develop pipelines for musicians of color who aim to work in theater but are seldom granted access. Committed to cultivating more racial equity in the industry, MUSE will partner with like-minded organizations to offer, among other services: a free online database of musicians of color, music assistant fellowships, mentorship opportunities, education, outreach and more.

Please click here to learn more about this exciting and necessary new initiative.

ASTEP Changemakers Scholarship


We are thrilled to announce the ASTEP Changemakers Scholarship!

The ASTEP Changemakers Scholarship will award two $1,000 scholarships, each supporting a Black student who has demonstrated leadership and a commitment to social justice. This scholarship will support the recipients’ educational journey.

Eligibility- Must be a graduating high school senior and resident of New York City. This scholarship may be used at an accredited college, university, vocational, or technical training program. Of the two scholarships, one will be awarded specifically for a student attending an HBCU (Historically Black College or University). Former ASTEP students are especially encouraged to apply.

Applicants must submit either a video or an essay to answer the question:
How are you an agent of transformation toward social justice? Give specific examples from your life and personal beliefs.

Video Requirements: Must be a link (ex. unlisted on YouTube or Vimeo); Must be under 5 mins
Essay Requirements: Must be under 1,000 words; Must be in PDF format; File should be labeled FirstnameLastname.pdf
Applicants must also provide a personal reference

Submission deadline: July 31, 2020
Winners will be contacted by August 15, 2020

Click here to apply!

 

 

New Direct Relief Program: Filling the Food Gap

“You are all doing exactly what the title of your organization says that you are doing.
You are: “Artists Striving to End Poverty.”
– Judy Juster, Clinical Coordinator/After School Program Director at Abraham House

Direct Relief Program - Filling the food gap

We are excited to share the news that ASTEP has started a food distribution program, Filling the Food Gap, in partnership with the Red Hook Container Terminal and the NYCEDC. This program provides direct service, food distribution, to one of our partners Abraham House located in the South Bronx.

Over the past month, donations of fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, poultry, and meat have been delivered to support the students that we serve, as well as their families and the greater community. Many people who received food were excited by the quality of the food, as well as the fresh poultry and beef, as the majority of donations have been canned goods. With this program, we have been able to provide 3 deliveries of fresh food to over 1,800 people!

Check out this NY Daily News article that features Mike Stamatis, the owner of the container terminal, and the impact these donations have had.

To help us to continue supporting the needs of the communities we serve during this difficult time, please consider a donation to ASTEP’s Arts Resilience Fund.

Volunteer Spotlight: Ryan Kim

This week, our Volunteer Spotlight is on Ryan Kim!

Why do you volunteer with ASTEP?
At first going to Africa to work with a unique community sounded very exciting, which it certainly was, but as I got deeper into the experience of ASTEP/artsINSIDEOUT in my four years with the program, the impact on me grew. This work truly gives me life—creatively and spiritually. The relationships I have formed at Nkosi’s Haven with the students, mothers, teachers and staff have truly changed me. Creation is on the agenda every minute of every day.


What is your favorite memory from an ASTEP program?

It happens every year. Putting together a devised piece of theatre in a few weeks is no easy task. There is always the question of how/will it get done? It always does somehow, which is truly a miracle to behold. But it’s the little, fleeting moments that affect me the deepest. To observe a young person see their best friend, their younger sibling, their mom in a new light is inspiring. Watching Wesley (a magical kid) watching his grandmother proudly telling her story on stage in front of an audience is a moment I’ll never forget. And to see students begin to see themselves with fresh eyes, more loving and compassionate, moving from “can’t” to “can” is like watching hope and love in action.

Why is arts education important?
Without arts education, a powerful tool for growth and creativity would be missing and a vital outlet for positive self expression wouldn’t exist. When survival is the daily focus, the arts can easily be brushed aside. When we thoughtfully shine a spotlight on the creative side, survival suddenly has a new ally, friend and advisor and a new world of possibility is discovered or created.

What do you hope your students gain from your time with them?
I hope that students will leave thinking more strategically, focusing on their abilities more than their obstacles. I hope they care for themselves and their community more compassionately and with great love.

What have you learned from your students?
So much more than I could ever hope to teach them.

Any advice to share for new ASTEP volunteers?
Go in with an open mind and open heart. Inspiration just needs a little coaxing to ignite, then all things are all possible. Enjoy every moment!

Thank you, Ryan, for all that you do! This work is possible because of people like you!

 

 

Charitybuzz Online Auction Benefitting ASTEP: Bid Now!

Visit our Charitybuzz online auction to bid on once-in-a-lifetime virtual experiences and autographed memorabilia.

Items up for auction include:

  • A personalized video message from Tina Fey, Sierra Boggess, Sabrina Carpenter, and more
  • Meet Jessica Vosk and Mary-Mitchell Campbell in a 30 Minute Video Call
  • Sing a duet with Erika Henningsen
  • 1 Hour Musical Theatre Coaching Session with Alexander Gemignani
  • …and more!

Click here to learn more

 

 

 

NYC Food Resources

We are proud to maintain longstanding relationships with incredible communities across New York City, made up of individuals affected by homelessness, HIV/AIDS, the justice system, and immigration status, among other challenges. We have seen through our partnerships that these communities are resilient, loving, and brave. Our students and their families are facing many obstacles during this pandemic, one of which is food scarcity.

If food scarcity is affecting you, your family, or your community, these resources may be able to help.

Free meals are available to every New Yorker at 400 locations
-Text ‘NYC FOOD’ or ‘NYC COMIDA’ to 877-877 to find food pick-up locations or for more information

Food for vulnerable and food-insecure New Yorkers
-The City has created the #GetFoodNYC Food Delivery Program to provide food for coronavirus-vulnerable and food-insecure New Yorkers not currently served through existing food delivery programs. This is a food delivery service for people who are unable to go outside for food. This program delivers two meals to each person in the household, every day.

One week of free groceries are available to all New Yorkers in five boroughs at the Neighborhood Opportunity Network (NeON) Nutrition Kitchens, in partnership with the Food Bank of NYC and the NYC Young Men’s Initiative (YMI)
-Learn More: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/neon/programs/nutrition-kitchen.page

These resources are available to anyone who needs food, regardless of age, student status, employment status, or immigration status.

 

 

How to Help Our Partners During the COVID-19 Pandemic

We are grateful to partner with social service organizations that serve communities throughout New York, the US, and around the world. During this global health crisis, we have been in close conversation with our partners, and have compiled a list of ways to help. Each partner serves a unique population, which means they each have unique needs. Here are some ways you can support our partners at this time:

Incarnation Children’s Center (New York, NY)
Buy an item off their Amazon Wishlist
Make a Donation

WIN (New York, NY)
Buy an item off their Amazon Wishlists, arranged by site

Abraham House (New York, NY)
Our partner, Abraham House, is in need of:
-Fresh produce + meat
-Food for their pantry
-Donations for cell phone service so families can stay connected to their social workers
Email info@asteponline.org for more info.

Safe Horizon (New York, NY)
Safe Horizon is sharing resources related to COVID-19 and domestic violence.

Lutheran Social Services of New York (New York, NY)
LSS is taking this time to celebrate the unsung heroes of their staff on social media.

Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project (Bangalore, India)
Contribute to SB’s COVID-19 Sustainability Fund.

This is a living post and we will continue to update it as we receive new information from our partners. We are grateful to team up with organizations that are so thoughtful in the ways they serve their communities, and we will continue to help in any way we can. We are in this together!